Friendship According to Humphrey

Last updated Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Author: Betty G. Birney
Date of Publication:
ISBN: 0399242643
Grade Level: 4th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Feb. 2006

Synopsis: An adorable and intelligent hamster is dismayed to find that he shares his status as classroom pet with a frog. Try as he might, Humphrey cannot seem to make friends with Og, who just splashes him or says "BOING!" The little rodent, who can secretly write, learn, and get out of his cage, also uses his wits to effect positive outcomes of the various subplots, including a new girl who won't talk and has trouble making friends, two pals who get into a terrible fight, a bully who causes trouble on the bus, and the janitor who dreams of going back to college.

Note to readers:
•  This is a chapter book which you will not finish during the read-aloud time. Aim to read Chapters 1 and 2 and remind the students that this book will be available at the school library if they would like to finish reading it.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What is a class pet? Why would a class have one? What kind of pet would you like to have for your class?
•  What makes a good friend? Who is your best friend and why?
•  What makes someone not a good friend? Who are you not friends with and why?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Chapter 1
•  Whose point of view is the story written in?
•  What is the setting of the story?
•  What are some of the names of students that Humphrey calls them and why? Do you have students like that in your class?
•  How does Tabetha, the new student act? Why do you think she acts this way?
•  What does George do to show that he doesn't like Og? What do you do when you do not like someone?
•  What would you do if you were Mandy?
•  Chapter 2
•  How are Tabetha and Og similar?
•  Who is Aldo? What is his problem?
•  The quote at the end of the chapter is ?The only way to have a friend is to be one.? How can Humphrey be a friend to Og? How can Mandy be a friend to Tabetha? What are some ways that you are a friend to someone else?

Craft ideas:
•  Read the 3 poems on frog from Chapter 5 ?Rhyme Time? (pp. 46-49) and have students write a poem about a frog using rhymes. After students share their poems, make a frog using construction paper. When you hit the end of the frog, it will leap forward. See whose frog can leap forward the most.
•  Read Chapter 11 ?Study Buddies? (pp. 104-108) and have students choose something to ?observe? in the room. Give them a sheet of paper to draw what they see up close and other students can guess what it is.

Special activities:
•  Read Chapter 12 ?Party Hearty? (pp. bottom 117-123) and teach students magic tricks. Bring ahead option: magic hat, cape, cards, etc.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!